Beginning to Read Music

by John Craton


This little series of lessons was designed for my beginning students, but anyone who is approaching the subject of learning to read the basics of music notation may find it helpful. I have endeavored to make the explanations as simple and forthright as possible. While this is by no means an exhaustive approach to music, it should nevertheless offer a good start for someone without any prior knowledge of music. Many other details will be covered in individual lessons with my students, but this little series of lessons should be a worthwhile beginning. Even those with an existing knowledge of music may find it beneficial to help reinforce things you may have known but forgotten. Of especial interest to the more advanced student are the discussion of scales and intervals, and the page of tables with common musical terms and symbols. These would be excellent reviews, even if you have been reading music for some time.

Subjects Covered:

What is Music?
More about Time Signatures
Extending the Pitch
Understanding Scales and Intervals
Whole Steps and Half Steps
Raising and Lowering the Notes
Shortening and Lengthening the Notes
Taking a Rest
A Basic List of Musical Terms and Symbols

What is Music?

Music is sound. All music is sound ... but not all sound is music. The sounds we make for music are called notes. So what makes these notes become music?

We must do two things to sound to make it into music. These two things involve pitch (how high or low the note is) and duration (how long we sound or play the note). We also can add a third thing called dynamics (how loud or soft we make the note) but that will come later.

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